https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Kingdom_of_Egypt People began to notice how graceful these new-found friends were and as this relationship deepened the Egyptian people began to believe cats were the physical embodiment of the gods and symbols of divine protection made small. Perhaps one of the most intricate hunting scenes featuring a domestic cat is painted on the tomb of Nebamun. Neith occasionally took the form of a cat and the cat was one of Mut’s sacred symbols. Deceased cats were embalmed, mummified and buried close to their owners. But she notes Egyptians didn’t worship cats. Anyone else deliberately harming a cat was in deep trouble. One in particular was due to cats’ fondness for sleeping in the sun, which eventually created the attribution between cat and the sun god – Ra. Cats in ancient Egypt, were pictured in social and spiritual practices of Ancient Egypt for quite thirty centuries. Herodotus visited Bubastis in 450 B.C.E. Cats have always occupied a special position in Ancient Egypt. There […] wrote, “whoever kills a cat in Egypt is condemned to death, whether he committed this crime deliberately or not. Egyptians shared a lot of what we do in the modern world. The pet was wrapped in linen, “treated with cedar oil such spices as have the quality of imparting a pleasant odor and of preserving the body for a long time.” The cat would be buried with mice, rats, and milk. A Cat in Ancient Egypt
Did they have the “good life”?
3. Dec 16, 2020 - Explore History's board "Cats in ancient Egypt", followed by 12353 people on Pinterest. Courtesy of the British Museum. The Egyptian Mau is the most popular of all Egyptian cat breeds.They are the only domestic cat that has naturally occurring spots, giving them an exotic appearance. The family are often wearing their best clothes and expensive jewellery – not the best attire for a hunting trip. It is generally suggested that cats were domesticated in Egypt around 2000 B.C.E. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-ancient-egyptians-loved-their-kitties-180965155/ People began to notice how graceful these new-found friends were and as this relationship deepened the Egyptian people began to believe cats were the physical embodiment of the gods and symbols of divine protection made small. According to James Allen Baldwin, cats are present in Egypt’s archaeological record as far back as the predynastic period, almost 5,000 years ago. Art from ancient egypt shows statues and paintings of every type of feline. The origin of this name is not clear but it seems likely that it is an onomatopoetic reference to the sound a cat makes (mew). Similar looking spotted cats are depicted in Ancient Egyptian paintings and described in hieroglyphs, suggesting that the origins of the Mau go way back to when cats were first domesticated. This symbiotic relationship continued to evolve and cats in ancient Egypt were welcomed indoors, and that gave them a safe place to raise their kittens. Painting from the tomb of Nebamun showing a cat catching birds. Many animals were seen as the representatives of gods (for example, crocodiles, hawks and cows) but the animals themselves were not considered to be divine. There are exceptions such as the cat named “Nedjem” (“sweetie”). 8 ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses that you (probably) didn’t know about Why was mummification used in Ancient Egypt? Diodorus recorded that when a cat died, their human family would go into a deep mourning and shave their eyebrows. CATS in Ancient Egypt
2. However, there is some evidence that every cat was considered to be a demi-god (although some Egyptologists do not agree). Only pharaohs, thanks to their high status, could own cats. It is also possible that this deity is one and the same as “Mauti” who is depicted in the Tomb of Seti II and may also refer to Mau or Mau-Aa (the great cat) as a form of Ra. Apparently, the Persians captured a large number of cats and let them loose on the battlefield outside Pelusium. The presence of tabby cats in ancient Egypt is further supported by a recent genetic study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Only the pharaoh had a high enough status to own a cat. Court records confirm that armies were occasionally dispatched to rescue the kidnapped felines and bring them home to Egypt. Cats in ancient Egypt: | | ||| | A bronze statue of the cat goddess Bastet. As an inscription in the Valley of the Kings states; “You are the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; you are indeed the Great Cat.”. Herodotus claimed that on discovery of a house fire, the men from the house would line up outside the building to protect the cats from danger. Bunson, M. The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Cats in the Ancient World by Joshua J. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. D, Lloyd. This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience. In ancient Egypt, they would refer to a cat as the mau, or miu, or mii, which is probably more fitting than the English word as it sounds more like the sound a … The cat was wrapped in linen and “treated with cedar oil and such spices as have the quality of imparting a pleasant odour and of preserving the body for a long time.” The cat would then be buried along with provisions such as milk, mice and rats. [1] The deity Mut was also depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. It wasn’t long before people realized these cats avidly hunted rats, mice, and other pests that ravaged their food stores. Instead, they believed cats carried divine energy inside them. Some of the most charming depictions of cats in ancient Egypt on tombs show them sitting under or beside the chair of the woman of the household. Considered a protector of children, Bes wandered freely throughout the world and home was wherever people were. The Egyptian word for cat was an onomatopoeia that sounded like an actual cat. Throughout much of Egyptian history, there were strict penalties for anyone who killed a cat — accidentally or otherwise, especially as the goddess Bast gained in popularity. They’re characterized by their great fidelity, shown both to their human family as well as their cat family. Bastet represented beauty, love, joy, happiness and was also the protector of humans. In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, Ra takes on the form of a cat named simply “Mau” (cat) in order to kill the serpent Apep. But what’s really fascinating here is that family members are portrayed wearing their best clothes and expensive jewelry, something that would make hunting lugubrious. When they did, cats were always pictured or positioned with respect. https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cat/ The cat is depicted as restraining or controlling a wild bird, and so acts as an agent of order, as well as perhaps providing divine protection for the members of the family. That’s especially true for a remarkable find in 2018, when a 4500-year-old-tomb was recently discovered in the Saqqara necropolis, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. In fact, archaeologists found a man interred with his cat in a burial mound in Mostagedda near Asyut dated to around 6,000 years ago. In Ancient Egypt, Life Wasn't Easy for Elite Pets by Traci Watson Accessed 1 Dec 2016. Mummified cats were often dedicated to the goddess Bastet at her temple in the city of Bubastis. The Egyptian people didn’t differentiate between wild and domestic cats, rather all cats were called “Miu” or “Miut,” meaning “he or she that mews” It’s unclear where this name originated but it’s thought to be an onomatopoeic reference to the meowing sounds a cat makes. Both the Book of Gates and the Book of Caverns refer to a cat god named Miuty (or Mati or Meeyuty). At the height of Bast’s popularity killing a cat, even accidentally, was punishable by death. Here are a few facts that will give you an idea about it. And these paintings themselves are lively, bursting with birds and fish, and usually featuring a cat capturing them. There were two main breeds of cat native to ancient Egypt. This website uses cookies for website analytics and to allow ads. This led to a thriving trade in smuggled cats! Sometimes Egyptians would mummify pet cats. They were accompanied by mummified scarab beetles, which were also sacred to the Egyptian people. As the two species interbred over time, a new species evolved that was a close relative of the modern-day Egyptian Mau. Cats were also important in the interpretation of dreams. 1- The goddess Bastet had the cat as her sacred animal and was usually depicted as a woman with cat’s head or an entire cat and defended Ra, god of the Sun. Dogs in the Ancient World by Joshua J. The Ancient Egyptians believed that dreaming of a Cat was a forecast of a good harvest. During Egypt’s New Kingdom period, which stretched from the 16th century B.C. Mark Accessed 15 May 2020. Mummified cats inside a tomb, at an ancient necropolis near Egypt's famed pyramids in Saqqara, Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. There were two main breeds of cat native to Ancient Egypt. Wild cats were probably domesticated at least as early as 2000 BC, but they were regularly represented in Egyptian tomb paintings only some 500 years later, in the New Kingdom. See more ideas about cats in ancient egypt, ancient egypt, egypt. Kittens were preferred because they could easily fit in small mummy containers. Some people have also suggested it may have originated from the word “Miw” (to see.) People were often depicted on hunting trips with their cats. Not only would this make the cat’s eye glimmer in a lifelike manner, it reinforces the solar and divine nature of the cat. ... World Heritage Encyclopedia, the aggregation of the largest online encyclopedias available, and … The mummified cats were most often buried in Bubastis, but tombs have also been discovered in Giza, Abydos, Denderah and Beni Hasan. Dec 6, 2019 - Our love affair goes way back . The ancient Egyptians were respectful towards the animals that shared their world and associated many of them with deities or positive human characteristics. Cats likely became so entwined with Egyptian life for practical reasons: Agriculture attracted rodents, which attracted wild cats. The latter had a calmer temperament and so was more commonly domesticated than its wilder relative. to the 11th century, B.C., the idea of cats as hunting partners really came into its own. Some of these mummies were beautifully preserved. When the Egyptians saw the terrified cats running around the battlefield, they surrendered rather than risk harm to their beloved friends. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archaeology/ancient-egyptians-revered-cats-for-divine-energy.htm A cookie which helps me track how many visitors come to my site and what pages they look at. Sources: After being mummified they were sold to worshippers who offered them as sacrifices to Bast or buried them with their loved ones. The cat may not have been domesticated, but was clearly important to the deceased. While many pet cats in ancient Egypt were killed in order to accompany their owner into the afterlife, some cat sacrifices took a rather sinister turn, with millions of cats being killed, either by blunt force trauma or strangulation and mummified. The people gather and kill him.”, He recounts the story of “an unfortunate Roman, who accidentally killed a cat” and “could not be saved, either by King Ptolemy of Egypt or by the fear which Rome inspired.”. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). It was apparently illegal to export cats to neighbouring countries. According to scholar Alleyn Diesel, the association of cats with divine characteristics only came gradually for multiple reasons. Cool stuff only. To the ancient Egyptians, Bastet was a protective, gentle goddess. And in general, people didn’t name their cats, other than being called Miu, or Miut. Your choices will not impact your visit. This suited the cats perfectly as being close to human settlements not only provided them with a ready supply of food (the vermin and the food left by humans) but also helped them to avoid larger predators. See more ideas about Ancient egypt, Cats in ancient egypt, Egypt.
The cat in ancient Egypt was sacred
There were many cat-like goddesses such as Bastet and Sekhmet
Cats were given the “royal treatment” even to the point of being more important than humans!! Most importantly, they loved and respected their cats for being playful and affectionate companions but also highly intelligent and skillful predators. The people gather and kill him. One of the most interesting traditions found in ancient Egypt is cat worshipping. Their diet changed somewhat as they were provided with food by grateful humans, and breeding programs heightened certain characteristics in the formerly wild animals. Thus all cats were under the guardianship of the pharaoh and harming a cat was treason. Once a week. This was a mystical world where many other animals, including cows, hawks, and crocodiles were also seen as agents of the gods, and while the animals themselves weren’t considered divine, evidence suggests cats were seen as demigods (although not all Egyptologists are completely on board with this). Cats were worshiped in Ancient Egypt and they were an important element among society. They called the cats as Mau. The deity Mut has also been depicted as a cat and in the company of a cat. Several deities were depicted and sculptured with cat-like heads such as Mafdet, Bastet and Sekhmet, representing justice, fertility and power. But for the Egyptian people, these scenes were more than just colorful “fishing and fowling “paintings because they portrayed the triumph of order over chaos. Several archaeological remains point towards the domestication of cats in Ancient Egypt. There is evidence that the majority of the world’s cats can trace their ancestry to an Egyptian cat. As a primarily agrarian society, the ancient Egyptians had a distinct problem with mice, rats and snakes all of whom threatened the grain stores. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians learned that wild cats preyed on these scavengers and so began to leave out food (such as fish heads) to tempt the cats to visit them regularly. CTRL + SPACE for auto-complete. Ancient Egyptians not only worshipped cats, but also adored them as their family members. When the town of Bubastis (Per-Bast) was established as the royal residence by Shoshenq I (Dynasty Twenty-two) the goddess Bast was promoted to a position of great power, as were the cats with whom she was so closely associated. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty) The cat can be seen restraining a wild bird, and thus is acting as an “agent of order.” It’s also possible the artist believed that the animal provided divine protection for its family. The two species eventually merged creating a new breed which was closely related to the modern Egyptian Mau. Bard, Kathryn (2008) An introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Burton, Anne (1973) Diodorus Siculus, Book 1, Ikram, Salima (2003) Death and Burial in Ancient Egypt, Grajetzki, W (2003) Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt, Kemp, Barry J (1991) Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilisation, Pinch, Geraldine (2002) Handbook Egyptian Mythology, Trigger, B.G, Kemp, B.J, O’Connor. Write CSS OR LESS and hit save. Thanks to their ancestors and ancient Egyptian owners, we can now call these beautiful creatures our friends. Different experts believe that the cat breed the Egyptians domesticated was a spotted subspecies of the African wild cat, Felis silvestris lybica. They worshipped a Cat Goddess, often represented as half feline, half woman, whom they called Bastet. Particularly interesting is the scene in the tomb of Nebamun in which it was discovered that the eye of the cat is decorated with gold inlay – the only part of the tomb decorations to feature this effect. This story may well be made up or exaggerated, but again highlights the high status of the cat in Egyptian society. The pampered house cats we love so much share a long history with us, one that flowered in Ancient Egypt some 10,000 years ago as two species of wildcats made their way into homes and hearths — the African wildcat (Felis sylvestris lybica) and the jungle cat (Felis chaus). Rather, these “fishing and fowling” scenes represent the triumph of order over chaos. We can be glad this custom is no longer practiced and our cats are free to live out their lives with us. NOTE: These settings will only apply to the browser and device you are currently using. 2- In Egypt it was forbidden to take cats out of the country. The Dogs of Ancient Egypt by Jimmy Dunn Accessed 1 Dec 2016. They are also playful and loving and the Egyptian people learned to love cats for these reasons. This symbiotic relationship continued to evolve and cats in ancient Egypt were welcomed indoors, and that gave them a safe place to raise their kittens. who warned that “The young men of Aven and of Pibeseth (Bubastis) shall fall by the sword: and these cities shall go into captivity”. These scenes should not necessarily be taken at face value. In one really amazing discovery in 1888, a tomb containing the remains of 80,000 feline burials was found in Beni Hassan, near modern-day Minya in Egypt. As this symbiotic relationship developed cats were welcomed indoors and eventually consented to move in with their human friends and rear their kittens in the safety of the home. The ancient Egyptians even hunted with their cats, a seemingly amazing feat of co-operation with an animal renowned for its stubborn individualism. It is sometimes suggested that cats were introduced into Egypt from Persia around 2000 B.C.E or from Nubia during the New Kingdom but this is unlikely due to significant evidence that cats lived in Egypt before these dates. The Greek Historian Diodorus Siculus ( 91 B.C. Overall, most people thought domestic cats carried the divine essence of Bastet (or Bast), a cat-headed goddess that symbolized fertility, music, domesticity, dance, and pleasure. According to Diodorus, when a beloved pet cat died, human family members mourned deeply, shaving their eyebrows. Archaeological digs have found that Cats were commonly celebrated in art during the Ancient Egyptian era and depictions of Cats have been found on tomb walls. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came from all over Egypt to celebrate by drinking, dancing and singing, and to pray to the goddess for her favour over the coming months. The cat was no longer divine or an incarnation of a god. Cats, however, occupied a special space in Ancient Egypt. https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/archaeology/ancient-egyptians-revered-cats-for-divine-energy.htm, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/why-ancient-egyptians-loved-their-kitties-180965155/, https://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/newkingdom/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Kingdom_of_Egypt, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diodorus_Siculus, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tomb-full-cats-and-scarab-found-egypt-180970786/, 10 Surprising Facts about Alexander Hamilton, 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Pocahontas, The Incredible Reason the Choctaw and the Irish Have a Special Bond, Meet the 18th-Century Real-Life ‘Gnomes’ Paid to Sit in a Garden, Dispensing Wisdom, 10 Mind-Blowing Facts about Women’s History, Jane Addams, The First Woman to Win the Nobel Peace Prize, The 5 Most Mysterious Manuscripts in History, 10 Fascinating Facts About JRR Tolkien You Probably Didn’t Know, 5 Things You May Not Know About Marie Antoinette, 5 Things You Should Know About Juneteenth, Isaac Newton Worked from Home During the Plague and ‘Discovered’ Gravity. This, of course, contrasts with the law regarding the killing of cats. The jungle cat (Felis chaus) and the African wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica). Intruduction : Cats in ancient Egypt !! Little girls were often named “Miut” (literally meaning “female cat”) displaying the Egyptians fondness for both cats and children. According to one theory, the cat as a semi-divine being could not be owned by a mere human. Cats were also mummified as a votive offering to the goddess Bast. However, the significance of having your cat with you in death went further still. The eye of the cat in this painting is decorated with gold inlay. Yes! Dogs had already been domesticated for over a thousand years by this time. Mafdet would later be replaced by Bastet, and the city of Bubastis became a centre of worship for this goddess of cats. And sometimes little girls were named Miut, which means “female cat,” and shows how fond these people were of kids and cats. Cats were called Mau in Ancient Egypt, and initially the animals attained an important place as the protectors of the country’s grain, as they killed rodents and snakes. Moreover, various DNA comparisons also suggest that many species of modern cats may have been descended from the Egypt… and the cult of Bast was officially banned by imperial decree in 390 AD and the fortunes of the cat waned with the demise of the goddess. Most modern cats are thought to be descended from the cats of ancient Egypt, so these beautiful and engaging creatures represent a living link between ancient Egyptian civilization and our own times. Cookie which helps me track how many visitors come to my site and what they... By death was considered to be regarded as protectors of evil by the ancient Egypt forbidden to take cats of. That were considered semi-divine, everyday people weren ’ t allowed to them... Egyptians, Bastet was a forecast of a cat was considered good news, meaning the harvest would fruitful. 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